Jailer: Fear of Ambition
Star Cast: Rajinikanth, Ramya Krishna, Jackie Shroff, Sunil, Yogi Babu, Mirnaa, Mohanlal, Vinayak, and Shivaraj Kumar
Music Composed by Anirudh Ravichander Jailer Review
Edited by R Nirmal
Cinematography by Vijay Karthik Kannan
Directed by Nelson Dilipkumar
There is a line in Inception, “You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little big, darling!” This is the first line that came to my mind after watching Nelson’s Jailer. There are two versions of the movie here – one Rajinikanth‘s Jailer and Nelson‘s Jailer. Had both combined together it would’ve been a real celebration for all fans. Nelson’s Jailer is like Arthur from Inception, who wants to be an architect of chaos in a dream world that is uncertain. Metaphorically, Films are those Dreams that we want to watch on the big screen with no inhibitions. When you try to architect them to the level of minute detail, you tend to lose the sight of bigger picture and fall back to what works but not dare to go forward into unknowns and attack with even bigger ambition. Eames, on the other hand, is like Rajnikanth’s Jailer, pushing the boundaries of scenes and limits of the written paper, on screen with just his swag. There is nothing impossible in that swagster’s sinister capabilities. He can order something just by moving Cuban Cigar in his mouth. Imagine doing that at the age of 73, with great confidence on-screen. It needs guts, determination, and courage to pull it off.
The main problem with young filmmakers and Rajinikanth has been this. That Inception scene and that one line from Nolan just describe everything so damn perfectly. Every young filmmaker who is getting a chance to work with Rajinikanth are trying to bring him down to their level. Kabali, Petta, and now Jailer, generated a huge amount of buzz, not because they are from those respective filmmakers but because these films promised pure “Thalaivar Rajinikanth film“. Yes, you should’ve seen how Baashha  ran for 100 Days in theatres even in Telugu states. You should’ve seen how fans loved Narasimha  and danced to “Naa Peru Narasimha” and you should’ve seen Baba openings. The lines “Ungaappan whistle kettavan … Unga Peranu Mavanu attam poda viduvan (The man heard the whistle of your dad and he will make even your grandkid dance for his tunes)”, they stand true to the test of time. There are memories attached to Rajinikanth’s films. I experienced FDFS euphoria for Chandramukhi , Shivaji , and Robo (Enthiran) . Those films and their box office debate always started with creating new box office barriers and not about the content being good or bad.
Chandramukhi‘s character might not have the “mass elements” that we see today, but fighting with a ghost for a friend, sacrificing himself enough for giving us an emotional connection. Fighting against the entire system for eradicating Black Money and then becoming a Robot who falls in love, well he could pull off anything. For a man, who made us believe that he can stop a bullet mid-air or catch it with his teeth while being shot, these things are “Chumma, Jujubee”. Rajinikanth has always been a larger-than-life commercial hero with an actor inside him, who can deliver the most realistic performance as well. Watch Mullum Malarum and come back, if you doubt the above statement. Celebrating Rajinikanth in theatres with larger-than-life character is what fans anticipate. But Nelson a half-baked cake with delicious toppings.
As a line, “A retired Jailer goes after an antique smuggler” works. Jailer being able to connect with criminals as being exposed to them, trying to reform them in Jail, and now, fighting against someone tough, work. But why do these criminals respect him? Why do they value his “Hukum”? Why aren’t they intimidated by his presence? What can he do other than kill them? What really earns him their respect, even though they are not reformed? Well, Nelson’s Jailer needs to answer these questions. Not in a half-constructed flashback but with his fully realized character. Rajinikanth’s Jailer doesn’t need to answer those questions, because it is Rajinikanth, and hence, everyone listens to him. When you want it to be Nelson’s Jailer, you want to construct it as well. KS Ravikumar’s Narasimha doesn’t bring in a politician at random at a birthday party. Before that Narasimha becomes super successful. Also, an entire village comes with Narasimha to stop a marriage, while it becomes believable because of Rajinikanth, it is given a reason as the character is respected and loved to the core.
Look at Shivaji, Politicians don’t fear Shivaji until he becomes BOSS. In Robo, until it is 2.0, Robot is a machine that constructs friendships. See, how KS Ravikumar and Shankar created reasons for Rajinikanth to be Rajinikanth on screen while the story doesn’t suffer from his image. So, Nelson just had to construct a character for Rajinikanth who helps these criminals to reform or see the bigger picture, so that they work for good but not bad. Either they get reformed under him or bring order to their chaotic lives with his strict action. If that would’ve been added to the screenplay rather than just one sequence trying to give Rajinikanth, a chance to showcase some of his younger self, would’ve worked in favor of the film. Sunil and Tamannaah’s track rather than working as a spoof, works as an unnecessary filler. The idea is good about pushing a man who stands for honesty to do something completely opposite to his principles.
But had that been come from a politician or someone even bigger person involved in the network and Rajinikanth pulled it off for exposing the entire network. See, how the purpose of something that looks like a filler changes into a Rajinikanth Sambavam on screen. Nelson wants to stay in his Kolamavu Kokila  zone where someone almost non-existent pushed to the maximum extent to do something completely irritational to exist. Rajinikanth and Vijay have grown far superior in audiences’ eyes that such a simple set-up also needs wings for them to exist and fly as well. Mohanlal and Shiva Rajkumar characters in the film are still criminals and they listen to him. Why? What makes them respect this man other than him being Rajini? Jaffar Sadiq‘s character would’ve worked as that device for KS Ravikumar. Small back stories by them, would’ve been part of his screenplay for Shankar while the mission would’ve been exposing everyone involved. Karthik Subbaraj in Petta  got the character and moments for fans right in the first half. He faltered in giving that character wings. Nelson just did not write more than a single line for the character to really shine. Anirudh Ravichander wants everyone to forget everything and just celebrate Rajinikanth. Hopefully, he gets the film he deserves for the work he puts in to make Thalaivar Padam, a Kondattam, in his next outing. While Nelson wanted to stay in his comfort zone and play with it, someone should’ve pulled out an inception to tell him to dream bigger and change his worldview to an even bigger level when he is working with such Dinosaur level Stars. His fear of ambition has left Jailer as just a criminal bookkeeper at the local jail while Rajinikanth needed to be the ruthless dictator at Andaman.
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